And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. — President John F Kennedy Jan-20-1961
The 35th President Of The United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born 100 years ago today in Brookline, Massachusetts. Normally a centennial celebration for a historical figure would be marked with some celebrations at the place of birth or, for a President, at their library.
With JFK it seems more in line with a rockstar.
On a brief search of “JFK At 100,” I came across over 8 million results ranging from sites such as….
plus too many T.V. specials to mention.
We all know that part of the fascination is that the President’s life was tragically ended in Dallas on November 22, 1963. He had a beautiful wife and adorable kids who captivated the nation.
Yet President Kennedy was in office just over 1000 days. He had two crises during his short term in office, the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Both brought us to the brink of war with Cuba and the Soviet Union. He had no notable domestic successes and the major tax cut he proposed was never enacted before his assassination.
So why are we ga-ga over JFK still 100 years later?
In one word.
The media fell in love with Jack Kennedy when he became the nominee and helped him narrowly defeat Richard Nixon in 1960. That love only grew stronger while he was in the White House and they covered up his “marital indiscretions” and the President’s penchant for keeping some unsavory people in his company. That love became an obsession after Dallas, to keep his memory alive thus, here we are today.
The power of the media to keep a Presidency that was unfortunately cut short 54 years ago relevant is evident in that he is still ranked in the top 10 of all Presidencies by a survey done by CSPAN of historians.
I kid you not.
I think the Peace Corps is a great thing and I love the fact that President Kennedy installed the taping devices that eventually brought down Richard Nixon. (The Kennedy tapes, while not as numerous as Nixon’s, are still fascinating.) But top 10 in ALL HISTORY?
This love fest of Jack Kennedy’s 100th birthday is once again the media showing their undying love for things they create. They still have a vested interest in Camelot being a thing it never was and trying to make us wish we could go back.
We should look at his time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with more critical, respectful eyes.
As we do, maybe we should slightly alter one of his most famous quotes, listed above.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what the media can do for you — ask if the media is being truthful to the country.